In September 1991 two hikers made a sensational discovery - a frozen body high in the mountains, near the border between Austria and Italy. It turned out to be 5,300 years old, the oldest frozen mummy ever found. Named Ötzi the Iceman after the Ötztal area where he was found, he became a worldwide sensation.
The body was taken to Austria where scientists soon got to work on him. They analysed his bone density to find out how old he was (in his 40s, an advanced age for the time) and examined his wonderfully preserved belongings. The cause of his death remained a mystery. Now archaeologists are being joined by forensic scientists to investigate this unique case and new research has revealed a shocking answer.
Scientists also wanted to know when he died so they examined the ice in which he'd been found. This contained pollen that they could identify as coming from autumn-flowering plants, so they concluded that Ötzi had died in the autumn. Together, this evidence implied that the Iceman might have got caught in a storm and died of hypothermia.
Using CAT scanning and carbon dating, scientists were able to learn much about the man's health and lifestyle, from the tools he used to the foods he ate, giving us much greater insight into the life of our ancestors during the Stone Age.
What is so unique about this find is that a Neolithic man whose life came to an abrupt end has been preserved along with much of his clothing and possessions intact.
Otzi is kept in a specially built museum in Bolzano, Italy. Visitors view the mummy through portholes into a specially refrigerated room.